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Study: Internet Access From Cell Phones, PDAs Surging

Although most people still access the Internet on a computer, the use of mobile devices to check e-mail or browse the Web is growing, outpacing even laptops in some markets, according to a new study.

That's particularly the case in parts of Europe and Asia, where widespread use of the devices has been more pronounced. The strongest growth was recorded in France, the United Kingdom and Japan, according to an annual study by market research firm Ipsos Insight.

Driving much of the growth are mobile phone users over the age of 35, suggesting that mobile phone browsing is extending beyond teens and young adults, researchers said.

"Accessing the Internet on a wireless handheld device is no longer a novelty for consumers in the major global economies," Brian Cruikshank, managing director at Ipsos, said in a statement. "It's becoming a common, everyday occurrence for many people."

In the United States, there has been an uptick in the number of people who use their phones to go online, although the growth appears to be leveling off as more Americans use laptops, according to Ipsos.

The study's findings are based on a random sample of 6,544 adults in 12 nations — urban populations only in five of them — conducted in November and December.

Among other findings of the study:

— Some 52 percent of households with a mobile phone have sent or received a text message, while 37 percent have sent or received e-mail on their handsets.

— More than 90 percent of all households in South Korea, Japan and urban China own at least one mobile phone.

— In Western Europe, 80 percent of all households owned a mobile phone, while in Canada, 60 percent of households do.

— In the United States, about 3 in 4 households own a mobile phone.